Know Your IP Network

Today's modern IP network systems are as predictable and dependable as you can get. Having worked with some of the world's leading IP and networking engineers, I know that designing switches and networks requires determination, math and quality materials to create predictable results. All of the components of an IP-based network system can be accurately measured and therefore the overall capacity of a system can be predicted.

For example, network bandwidth is reliable. When a cable is connected between two gigabit switch ports and green link lights appear at both ends, you can reliably predict that there is 1,000 megabits per second of network bandwidth available within a very small margin of error. The processing capabilities of PC/Servers are very predictable and there are a myriad of tests that are used to demonstrate the performance of one PC/Server over another. Mathematical calculations can be performed to reliably determine the capacity of storage systems.

Another example of a highly reliable and predictable IP-based network is your television video content service provider. The provider that you pay to view your television video content designed their IP networks to reliably deliver HD video to your home. Service providers who deliver TV content know exactly how much bandwidth each of their TV shows consumes and they do not over saturate their networks. They also separate TV data from random Internet data to ensure the TV data is reliably delivered.

What about security on IP networks?

With all this reliability and predictability why are we concerned with putting security systems on IP networks? Security data can be difficult to predict as it comes in several different forms that include alarms, alerts and data from detection devices. Each of these devices triggers the push of large amounts of data to a variety of client workstations for distribution throughout the network. These events often grab someone's attention, resulting in more requests for video and data from the network system. The more significant the event, the more significant the demand and the greater the impact on the overall network.

The following tips can help maximize the reliability and predictability of an IP-network based system:

Scenario modeling: Before the IP network is designed, try to accurately predict the amount of traffic that will impact the network. Develop a few different scenarios to model the source and destination of traffic flows across the network based on some different events. Control what you can: Design the IP-based network to accommodate the weakest links and worst-case scenarios with some overhead. Storage systems can be relied upon to hold a predictable number of terabytes of data. Take some time to do the math and design a system that will accommodate the worst case model and then add at least 20 percent overhead to the system. Test and document: Properly install your system and test it to ensure you are achieving the level of performance expected.

Take advantage of your resources

It can be daunting to consider the skills required to do everything described above. However, you don't need to know it all or do it all on your own. Consider partnering with experts in various portions of the system design. There are cabling, PC/Server, storage and networking components that come with performance guarantees and long warranties. Equipment manufacturers offer certification courses and training. Data communications and other subcontractors stand at the ready-to-install portions of the system your staff is not comfortable with.

An IP-networked based system can be reliably built. And it all starts with planning. By anticipating worst case scenarios, predictable performance can be achieved. Leverage the knowledge and expertise of your partners to create a plan for success that results in a positive end-user experience. In the end, your ability to manage and control the delivery of a well-designed system will be your golden ticket to future business, as well as referrals from satisfied customers.


Tim Holloway is the vice president of Sales & Marketing, Security Solutions, CSC/WESCO, Carol Stream, Ill.,

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Tools of the Trade

Here are a few tools available to help you design IP systems that are both reliable and predictable:

Server and Storage system calculator:

NVR Design Tool:

IP Camera design tools:

Pull quote:

"Design the IP-based network to accommodate the weakest links and worst-case scenarios with some overhead."